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Coral Crypt: Photos of Damage from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Coral skeletons

Coral colony damaged by Deepwater Horizon oil spill

(Image credit: Fisher lab, Penn State University)

The extent of damage from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill may be greater than scientists previously thought. A study of coral communities in the region found evidence of damage more than 13 miles (21 kilometers) away from the spill site.

This photo shows a coral colony located about 8 miles (13 km) away from the site of the 2010 oil spill.

After an oil spill

Coral colony impacted by Deepwater Horizon oil spill

(Image credit: Fisher lab, Penn State University)

A coral colony located about 3.7 miles (6 km) away from the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This photo was taken in June 2014.

A guide to corals

Colonies of damaged coral with other sea creatures

(Image credit: Fisher lab, Penn State University)

A previously discovered coral community with attached anemones. These corals were used to identify damage from the Deepwater Horizon spill in newfound coral communities.

Signs of damage

Damaged coral colony and brittle star

(Image credit: Fisher lab, Penn State University)

The brown patches on the corals are signs of damage. Healthy corals are typically gold in color, and do not have these brown splotches.

New corals

Damaged coral colonies

(Image credit: Fisher lab, Penn State University)

Newly discovered coral communities located about 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) away from the spill site.

Oil damage

Damaged coral colonies, anemones and brittle stars

(Image credit: Fisher lab, Penn State University)

The brown patches on the corals were used to diagnose damage from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Sick corals

Damaged coral colonies with patchy brown growths

(Image credit: Fisher lab, Penn State University)

These corals were located about 3.7 miles (6 km) away from the site of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Away from the oil

Health coral colonies

(Image credit: Fisher lab, Penn State University)

A healthy colony of coral with attached anemones at a site 114 miles (183 km) away from the site of the Deepwater Horizon oils pill.

Healthy corals

Health coral colony and brittle stars

(Image credit: Fisher lab, Penn State University)

Another healthy coral community. These specimens were found 3,400 feet (1,050 meters) below the water's surface.